What Are the Causes of Numbness in Feet?

Updated February 21, 2017

We have all had our foot go numb if we've sat on it or otherwise constricted the blood flow. However, sometimes foot numbness occurs when we think our circulation has been fine. In those cases, a numb foot may not only be annoying, but it can be indicative of an underlying condition that needs medical attention.


Diabetes is one of the most common causes of foot numbness. Diabetics suffer from the body's inability to process sugar and can also suffer a host of other ailments. Foot numbness comes about when circulation to the lower extremities is hindered.


Paresthesias, a condition marked by tingling, burning, a prickly feeling or numbness, may be one cause of numbness in the foot. Nerve damage often leads to this condition. The damage could be the result of excessive pressure on the foot, a foot that has become confined or trapped, or a number of nerve diseases.

Other Nerve Problems

A host of nerve diseases and problems could cause numbness in the feet. These include spinal cord degeneration; olivopontocerebellar atrophy, a degeneration of nerves in a particular area of the brain; a pinched nerve that leads to the foot; and other nerve disorders. One of the most common inherited nerve diseases, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, has nothing to do with the teeth. Named after the three people who discovered it, the disease leads to a progressive loss of muscle in the lower extremities as well as the hands and forearms.


Broken bones, smashed tissue, sprains or other physical injuries of the foot can cause it to become numb. These conditions often result from an obvious trauma, although it may not be realised that a foot is broken or how severely it has been injured at the time of the incident.

Intermittent Claudication

Intermittent claudication is a condition where walking makes the calf muscles hurt. This can be brought on by a number of factors, including being a sedentary lifestyle, heavy smoking, and nerve diseases, and can result in a numbness of the foot.


Other conditions that could cause foot numbness include hyperventilation, extreme dieting and a vitamin B6 deficiency. More include chemical poisoning and ciguatera, which is poisoning brought about by eating certain marine fish that have accumulated toxins through their diets.

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